Thursday, 1 May 2014

Norfolk moths: Rockland St. Peter garden, 30 April 2014: first hawk-moth of the year

The last day of April was warm with sunny spells and the night-time forecast was for cloud and warmer temperatures than we have had for a while. It sounded ideal for mothing, particularly with the prospect of frost forecast for the weekend. There was a light E breeze and evening temperature was high (11.0°C at 21h30), yet there was no activity at the trap for the first couple of hours that I checked – typically the time of peak activity. All I could see was a Pine Beauty nestled inside the egg cartons (which had escaped by dawn). I toyed with the idea of turning off the light and packing up the trap, but resisted the temptation. By first light, the mist had come down and enveloped the trap. A Cuckoo sang not far off in the pre-dawn at 04h50 – my first of the year, though Walnut Tree Garden Nursery had one singing on 21 April and another was reported in the village yesterday. The temperature dropped very little overnight (9.3°C at 05h05). The new moon had been on the previous night.

The first thing I noticed was a Buff-tip lying on the sheet by the base of the box – new for this trap, but a familiar species from the past, and a good omen.

Buff-tip Phalera bucephala, on the birch twig it mimics

A large moth on the outside of the trap proved to be new too Scalloped Hazel, with a second inside.

 Scalloped Hazel Odontopera bidentata
But the best was inside the trap. I had only removed one egg carton when I saw it: a Poplar Hawk-moth in all its glory – first hawk-moth for the trap and, again, a flashback thirty years to Cambridge moth-trapping days. 

Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi      
Poplar Hawk-moth Laothoe populi      

As, I removed it, I realised that I had almost grabbed a ghostly Pale Tussock, and alongside a Rustic Shoulder-knot – three new moths together.

Pale Tussock Calliteara pudibunda

Rustic Shoulder-knot Apamea sordens, with "shoulder-knot" just visible

Coxcomb Prominent and Shuttle-shaped Dart were new for the year. The rest of the trap contained very few moths, resulting in a night of low numbers but high diversity.

Macro-moths (21 moths of 14 spp.); no micros:-

Opisthograptis luteolata Brimstone Moth 1
Odontopera bidentata Scalloped Hazel 2
Menophra abruptaria Waved Umber 1
Laothoe populi Poplar Hawk-moth 1
Phalera bucephala Buff-tip 1
Ptilodon capucina Coxcomb Prominent 1
Clostera curtula Chocolate-tip 1
Calliteara pudibunda Pale Tussock 1
Diaphora mendica Muslin Moth 1
Agrotis puta Shuttle-shaped Dart 3
Ochropleura plecta Flame Shoulder 1
Panolis flammea Pine Beauty 1
Orthosia gothica Hebrew Character 5
Apamea sordens Rustic Shoulder-knot 1

No comments:

Post a comment